Havre Daily News
The District IV Human Resource Development Council is asking for the community's help in letting victims of domestic or sexual abuse tell their story.
One of the largest hurdles victims must get over is the fear of talking about their experience, HRDC domestic abuse shelter manager Tiffany Wright said. Along with this fear comes anger, shame, worry, and a slew of other feelings, all of which can make it hard for the victim to start the necessary process of healing, she said.
As part of the national Clothesline Project, these local victims will have the chance to take a T-shirt, some paint, and begin telling their stories.
"All of these (feelings) are expressed through the art," domestic abuse program director Roxanne Ross said about the final product.
The Clothesline Project is a 15-year-old anonymous program started as a vehicle for women affected by violence to express their emotions. By decorating and hanging a T-shirt to be viewed by others, they are creating a testimony of the problem of violence against women, the project's Web site says.
HRDC is asking the community to help by donating T-shirts for the women to use. Shirts of all colors and sizes may be taken to the HRDC offices to be distributed to those who want to participate in the project.
Wright said there are plans to have the shirts displayed in a city park sometime in October, but that the shirts are needed as soon as possible.
This will be the first time the project has been done in Havre, she said. Last year, while still in college, Wright took part in this project and said the greatest success of the 175 shirts on display was that many of them came from women who were able to share their experiences for the first time.
She spoke of one woman who had gone 25 years since her abuse and never spoken out about it, but finally did "because she could tell her story through her shirt."
Ross said she has never taken part in the project, but thinks it is something important for the community, and most of all, for the women.
"It's a project that makes communities know there are deep issues involved" with the abuse and the abusers, she said. "We are always active letting people know this goes on in our community."
Hopefully, she said, the project could give these women, along with others who haven't yet come forward, a strong sense of empowerment. By telling their stories, they are helping to expose these issues in their communities, Ross added.
"To have it on display will let them play a part in social change," she said.
On the Net: www.clotheslineproject.org